Miami-Dade County

A look at Miami-Dade government’s 500 best-paid workers

In Miami-Dade County government, it pays well to be a lawyer.

The County Attorney’s Office accounts for 16 of the 20 best-paid Miami-Dade government workers in 2013, according to our latest Dade Data analysis. The Attorney’s Office would hold 18 of the top 20 slots if not for two lawyers assigned to the payrolls of the county’s aviation and sewer departments.

[Don’t see a chart? Click here for a link.]

Our interactive chart lists the 500 best-paid workers in Miami-Dade government last year. We harvested the data from the county’s handy payroll database, where you can search for compensation information by name, department, range and year. This chart is a follow-up to a recent Dade Data that broke down the same 2013 compensation data by department.

As Miami-Dade County braces for its yearly budget battle, government pay promises to be one of the fiercest fights. Mayor Carlos Gimenez wants significant cuts from county unions; labor leaders say the mayor should look at high-paid administrators for savings first.

Last year, the top payroll slot went to County Attorney Robert Cuevas, whose 2013 compensation came in at about $352,000. Bill Johnson, the county’s port director until taking the top water-and-sewer job earlier this year, and Ed Marquez, deputy mayor for finance, rounded out the Top 20 with compensation totals at about $250,000 each.

Our Top 500 chart actually lists 551 employees. The reason: we didn’t rank those employees whose relatively large compensation totals seemed to come from severance or retirement pay. Miami-Dade’s database includes each worker’s final paycheck for the year. Those paychecks can exceed $200,000 when a well-paid county veteran gets paid out for unused leave and deferred retirement benefits.

For our Top 500, we only included those workers whose final two-week paycheck represented less than 5 percent of their year-end compensation. But we tacked onto the end of the list those 51 workers who would have been in the Top 500 if not for our rule about large paychecks.

Since the chart is interactive, you can click on the column labeled “2013 adjusted pay” to see a true ranking by year-end compensation, then click again on “Dade Data rank” to see the list in the original order. You can also click on the columns to sort the employees alphabetically, by job title and by department.

One note on terminology: the adjusted pay reflects the amount of compensation after an employee’s contribution to the county’s healthcare and retirement programs. Miami-Dade commissioners thwarted Gimenez’s effort to have union workers continue paying 5 percent of their salary this year to cover healthcare costs.

Combined, the 551 employees in our chart earned $90 million in 2013. That amounts to about 6 percent of the total $1.6 billion in compensation recorded in the county’s payroll database last year.

While the County Attorney’s Office dominated the Top 20, overall the county’s fire department accounted for the largest share of the 551 best-paid slots. The fire department has 173 workers on the list, earning a total of $27 million. Police took the No. 2 ranking with 151 workers earning $23 million, followed by the attorney’s office at No. 3 with 45 workers earning about $10 million.

This post is part of Dade Data, an online series from the Miami Herald’s County Hall team. Dade Data explores the numbers driving Miami-Dade County’s government.